In the wake of the recent Arizona shootings, the leftist cry to censor free speech has been laughable. I was expecting a big push to ban firearms, and we got some of that, but the hand wringing and smug, teary eyes about hate-speech and uncivil dialogue surprised me. Talk about hypocrisy. I don't remember hearing any of that when people were making movies about assassinating George Bush, or when some babe on National Public Radio was wishing Dick Cheney and his family would die, or when some congressional Bozo gave a speech on the house floor saying the Republican agenda was to kill all of the old people. There are dozens of other examples, you know as well as I.
But, having said that, I must say that I agree with the lefties. Hate speech is bad. Speech that promotes hate and discord within our society is harmful and destructive. Young people and people with mental disorders are easily influenced by what they see, what they hear and what they are told to think. I think it's time to do something about it.
Let's start with video games. Young people today are submerged in a world of video fantasy. Many don't have lives of their own. They live through what they experience on the screen, and it damages them. Six or eight hours a day of video games robs them of intellectual development, creativity, physical activity, homework, sports, family time, social interactions, church activity and even proper nutrition. Some become video junkies, technology zombies without a real personality, as shallow as the flat screens they watch. We all know some of those kids.
And, if Sarah Palin putting crosshairs over a congressional district on a map can inspire murder and mayhem among certain segments of our population, what does a thousand hours of playing violent video games like Grand Theft Auto, In Cold Blood, Combat, Manhunt and Smackdown do to a 12 or 14-year-old brain? Does anyone remember teenagers Harris and Klebold, the video game addicts who committed the Columbine school shootings in Colorado? Their favorite video game was "Doom."
Then there is rap music and MTV. Pop culture icons strut their stuff while spouting the most vile, hateful and antisocial rhetoric ever imagined. Kids love it and take it into their heads and hearts like the snake-oil medicines of a century ago.
Constant exposure to sex, violence and antisocial behavior desensitizes people, especially kids, and the never-ending fantasies of blood and gore makes them expect it, prepare for it, and even look forward to it. Watch what happens when the lights go out in a big city near you.
I fear we are creating a generation of monsters. We see it in the way some people dress, act, and interact with other people. There is ever-diminishing respect for law and order, those in authority, and sacred institutions like church, school and representative government. Social civility, personal honor and respect for the rights and property of others are often drowned in a swill of juvenile Bart Simpson-like self-indulgence, laced with obscenities and in-your-face defiance of anything good or constructive. Drug abuse is condoned and even glorified in pop culture media.
Television and movies are almost as bad when it comes to desensitizing society to violence and antisocial behavior. Each year producers seem to race to see who can put out the most offensive, socially damaging product. Themes of violence, sex, social deviance and doomsday win awards and accolades from the Grammy and Academy Award committees. Last week MTV announced a new program for teenagers called "Skin," which, from the advertising, appears to be nothing more than an hour-long orgy of sex, violence, drug abuse and deviant behavior. I wonder how something like this might affect the morals and social structure of our country in the years to come?
So, yes, I do agree with liberal Democrats that hate speech is bad. Speech that advocates violence is bad. Speech that degrades the moral fiber or our country is bad. Speech that encourages people to break the law and hate cops is bad.
But, before we go after talk radio, Sarah Palin or Fox News, let's be honest with ourselves and go to the real root of the problem. Political discourse can surely be more civil, from both sides, but eliminating hate speech should start in the pop culture swamp.